Speaking to reporters in London this morning, ahead of its U.K. premiere of Camp Rock, CEO Bob Iger was upbeat about the family entertainment giant's prospects. "Our business has been quite resilient," he said. "Global theme parks have held up extremely well."
He went on to credit some of the company's success to the weak dollar and the favorable impact that it has had in attracting Europeans to its stateside parks as well as positive currency translations from overseas transactions.
"As we go into '09 we believe that the challenges we faced in '08 will still exist, and as we manage the company, we're managing it with that in mind," he went on to say.
Wait a minute. Hasn't the dollar been gaining strength lately? It has. That may make many of the hurdles that the company cleared in fiscal 2008 -- which ends this month -- even harder to leap over next year. The favorable currency translations will turn unfavorable. Overseas travelers who have been flocking to the United States to make the most of the cheap greenback will have to rethink that strategy.
Keep in mind that it's not as if the stateside parks were doing monster business to begin with. Disneyland and Walt Disney World combined for a 1% dip in attendance this past quarter. It was offset by a 1% uptick in per-capita guest spending, but if flat is how the parks fared with the overseas bargain hunters, how will the future be brighter if the dollar strengthens but the economy does not?
Regional park operators like Cedar Fair
I'm a Disney fan. I'm a small Disney shareholder. However, I'm also a realist. When I see the Reuters article this morning with a "Disney says business resilient despite economy" headline, I begin to wonder if I'm the only one who feels that the turning of the currency tide will hurt Disney. It's a quality company, but now it has to battle the headwinds instead of the tailwinds of the currency markets. The same goes for other entertainment media giants like Viacom
It's time to be cynical. At the very least, it's time to redefine resiliency.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is mad about the Mouse, and owns shares in Disney, Six Flags, and Cedar Fair. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.